By Lena Williams – I’m a middle-aged African-American woman and I’m not voting for Donald Trump for president.
I’m not voting for Trump not necessarily because I’m black and he has repeatedly demeaned members of my race saying we are living in poverty, have no jobs, our schools are no good and 58 percent of our youth are unemployed.
I’m not voting for Trump because of his misogynist comments about women, referring to us as fat pigs, dogs, sluts and disgusting animals.
I’m not voting for “The Donald” because I’m a journalist and I would encourage all credentialed journalists, student journalists and citizen journalists to do the same.
While no single individual or group has been immune from Trump’s tirades, degradation and ire, the media has suffered his slings and arrows at a record pace.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump has tried to bully and intimidate the press. His pressure tactics haven’t worked but that hasn’t stopped him.
The Republican presidential nominee has continually threatened to sue media companies, repeatedly criticized coverage of him and his campaign, mocked a disabled journalist and verbally attacked others. One of his campaign advisors shoved a female reporter trying to ask the candidate a question.
Two Trump supporters told Bloomberg News that during a conference call on June 6 the candidate urged supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry by calling reporters out as “racists’ and “hypocrites.”
Trump has said that as president, he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. A President Trump would use his office to, in his words, “create problems” for Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post and founder of Amazon. If or when the Post or the New York Times writes negative stories about President Trump, the companies would be sued for libel.
Trump has said, and I quote: “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when the New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money, instead of having the chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
As journalists we are often advised to developed thick skins because we will, over the course of our careers, face our fair share of criticism. A fellow journalist once told me that if we didn’t have people on both sides of an issue complaining about our coverage we weren’t doing our jobs effectively.
But there is reasonable criticism and then there is Trump’s brand of sound and fury.
As a registered independent for more than 20 years, I’ve voted for Democrats, Republicans and independents. I look at a candidate’s qualifications, their temperament and their platform before pulling the lever. I try to keep an open mind and heart, setting aside race, gender, party affiliation in choosing whom to vote for. But even when you set aside Trump’s comments about blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, women and journalists, you’re left with a man with a Messianic complex who lacks the temperament and qualifications for the job.
Trump declined an invitation to speak to the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists during their joint conference earlier this month. Clinton addressed the conference and answered questions.
In the 31 years I worked for The New York Times as a reporter, the paper’s ethical guidelines prohibited journalists from openly campaigning for a candidate, be they running for school board or president of the United States. Reporters were discouraged from donating to political campaigns or causes, even the NAACP, lest we risk compromising our objectivity.
But I’m retired now and I can say and do as a please and it greatly pleases me to exhort my colleagues in the media to take a stand on November 8 and, in the words of Michael Bloomberg, vote for the “sane, competent” candidate. That’s Hillary Clinton for those in doubt.
Clinton has her faults when it comes to the press. She has refused to speak reporters on a regular basis and tends to be guarded when does. But she hasn’t threatened to use the Executive office to dismantle the First Amendment or as a bully pulpit to neutralize the media.
I don’t take Trump’s comments about my profession personally. It’s a constitutional thing.
The mission of the Right to Report blog is to inform our readers and the American public about a potential threat to our constitutional rights, rights we take for granted. But the blog is also intended to build a coalition of media workers, First Amendment advocates and the public through petitions, public letters, lobbying and direct action like the vote.
It would be irresponsible of me, as a journalist, to sit silently and idly by while a candidate for the highest office threatens our First Amendment right to a free press.
Trump’s statements show he either doesn’t understand or care about legal precepts nor respects the rights granted Americans under the Constitution.
In a page one story in the June 4 edition of The New York Times, constitutional scholars and legal experts said Trump’s disregard for constitutional rights are troubling and warned that electing him would create a constitutional crisis.
“Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and a phone would do?” Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute, told The Times.
Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, said Trump’s comments about revising libel laws, show a “troubling disregard for free expression.”
“There are very few serious constitutional thinkers who believe public figures should be able to use libel as indiscriminately as Trump seems to think they should,” Somin said. “He poses a serious threat to the press and the First Amendment.”
Nixon had an enemies list that included the names of political opponents, journalists and others the president planned “to screw” by using government resources.
Trump’s enemies seem to include anyone who doesn’t support him or agrees with him and he wants to rewrite the Constitution to screw them. That, in the words of Clinton, makes him “temperamentally unfit” to be President of the United States.